It's evidence that Hollywood needs "more female storytellers," she said.

May 30, 2017

Actress Jessica Chastain has emerged as a champion of women in Hollywood, speaking frequently about the entertainment industry’s wage gap and her own efforts to achieve pay parity with her male counterparts.

The star of Zero Dark Thirty and The Help further cemented that reputation on Sunday when—as a jury member of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival—she spoke candidly at a press conference about the “quite disturbing” way women were portrayed in the movies she viewed at the annual event in France.

“I watched 20 films in 10 days—and I love movies—and the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women. From the female characters that I saw represented, it was quite disturbing, to be honest,” she said.

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She noted that there were “some exceptions” to the trend, but for the most part, she said, “I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.”

She renewed a call for “more female storytellers,” which, by her estimation, could lead to female characters that reflect the women she sees in her daily life—”ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them; they have their own point of view.”

Chastain’s comments reverberated around the Internet, with some of Hollywood’s biggest female stars endorsing her statement.

Chastain’s remarks came as Cannes awarded the award for best director to Sofia Coppola for her remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film The Beguiled. Coppola’s new film by the same name stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.

In winning the honor, Coppola became just the second woman to take home the prize in the festival’s 70-year history. The first was Russian director Yuliya Solnteva, who won in 1961 for Chronicle of Flaming Years about grassroots resistance to the Nazis in the Soviet Union.

In her acceptance speech—read aloud by director Maren Ade on Coppola’s behalf—Coppola thanked another female director, Jane Campion, for being “a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” Campion remains the only woman to have ever won the festival’s coveted Palme d’Or award, its highest honor.

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